Kelowna Joint Water Committee


The Kelowna Joint Water Committee (KJWC) was formed in 1991 to promote standardization of methods and materials, improve communications, and provide an integrated approach to water supply within the City boundaries.  The five utilities include: 

  • The City of Kelowna Water Utility (City)
  • The Black Mountain Irrigation District (BMID)
  • The Glenmore-Ellison Improvement District (GEID)
  • Rutland Waterworks District (RWD)
  • The South East Kelowna Irrigation District (SEKID)

Water is supplied to the City of Kelowna residents by these five systems and approximately 13 smaller utilities.  Collectively the annual volume of water supplied is the second largest in the province behind Metro Vancouver (formerly the Greater Vancouver Regional District).  The high volume is due to the arid climate and the significant amount of agricultural activity that requires large volumes of water during the summer months.

Although the City and Rutland water systems now supply water to an urban-based population, the other 3 districts, GEID, BMID and SEKID, remain rural-based. Today, a large portion of these 3 districts are zoned for agriculture; are subject to development limitations of the Agricultural Land Reserve; and have limited populations to fund upgrades and improvements to their systems.  At the same time, while municipalities and regional districts can qualify for infrastructure grants from the province and federal government, improvement districts continue to be prohibited from obtaining such funding.

The Glenmore-Ellison Improvement District, South East Kelowna Irrigation District and Black Mountain Irrigation District provide approximately 59% of the annual regional water supply and have high cost requirements to bring these systems in compliance with the drinking water standards.  In 2009, the improvement districts lobbied the Province to assist in funding water quality upgrades.  Probable projects and funding needs were identified in 2009 and were reviewed by both the City and the Province.  The Minister of Community Development at that time, the Honourable Bill Bennett, required that the five large water suppliers collectively develop a comprehensive water quality improvement plan that would:

  • provide best, lowest cost solutions;

  • be flexible with respect to governance in that amalgamation may not necessarily be a requirement in developing the solutions;

  • meet the desired public health outcomes; and

  • maintain the interests of agriculture.

The Kelowna Integrated Water Supply Plan (KIWSP) began development in the fall of 2010 and was finalized in September 2012. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed by all five utilities in December 2012, agreeing to Minister Bennett's requirements, and approving the KIWSP as a mutually agreeable and phased capital plan.  The plan illustrates improvements for supply and treatment infrastructure over a 20+ year term, that serves all customers in the water service area.  A copy of the Memorandum of Understanding is available here:  MoU - CityPurveyors - 07Dec2012.pdf

The plan is the most comprehensive document on the state of water quality supplied within Kelowna.  Currently, there are 41 sources of water available to the five large utilities.  The plan considers the quality, supply capacity and risks associated with each water source and breaks them down into one of three categories for long-term use:

  • Primary domestic sources are those of lowest risk and highest raw water quality.  The highest quality sources are the 3 largest water intakes on Okanagan Lake, selected groundwater wells and Mission Creek;

  • Secondary domestic sources include the remaining lake intakes and a majority of remaining groundwater wells.  They may also be available for long-term domestic use but are considered a back-up source in times of emergency;

  • Irrigation sources include the three large low-elevation creeks:  Scotty Creek  which supplies BMID; Kelowna (Mill) Creek, supplying GEID; and Hydraulic Creek which supplies SEKID.

The plan considered whether to construct one centralized City-wide treatment facility or to have several locations from which to supply domestic water.  It also includes guidance on how to approach water system separation.  As most of the water supplied to larger parcels of land is for outdoor irrigation, lower quality water could be considered for this use.  Water supplied for indoor use must be of high quality to be safe for human consumption.  System separation means the installation of a second watermain so that one provides lower quality irrigation water and the other provides higher quality drinking water.

In developing a comprehensive water improvement plan, it is challenging to keep the approach simple, direct and in-line with the long-term strategy for water supply for the entire City.  The plan is set out in 8 simple stages, in order of priority:

Stage 1 - Improve Source Water Quality - Access water from the highest quality available water sources.

Stage 2 - UV Disinfection - Maximize the use of Ultra-Violet disinfection throughout the region as it is proven to be the Best Available Technology and a cost effective barrier that is applicable for use on the high quality domestic sources.

Stage 3 - Primary Separation - These are the agricultural areas that require separation immediately and include Scotty Creek (completed by BMID); the Ellison area (within GEID); and most of the SEKID service area.

Stage 4 - Phase 1 Interconnections - Interconnect the existing water distribution system grids in order to improve the interconnection capacity and emergency supply capacity.

Stage 5 - Ancillary Works / Reassessment of Status - These projects improve water quality, redundancy, protect source water quality and/or assist in overall water management.

Stage 6 - Secondary Separation - these secondary areas include the Scenic area in GEID and the Morrison, McKenzie, Gallacher's Rd and Belgo areas within BMID

Stage 7 - Filtration of Primary Sources - if any of the four primary water sources experiences significant deviations in raw water quality, filtration and/or additional treatment would be added.

Stage 8 - Phase 2 Interconnections - The second stage of interconnections is to provide substantial capacity between utilities through the construction of high capacity transmission mains. 

All water quality projects from the five Kelowna water utilities were evaluated to see if they matched in with the greater City-wide approach - 48 projects were proposed in the 8 project stages.  To remove all Water Quality Advisories and meet the minimum treatment requirements of Interior Health, all projects to the end of Stage 3 must be completed first, for a total cost of approximately $49,000,000.  To provide a more reliable higher quality water supply, greater than the minimum requirements of the regulator, all projects to the end of Stage 4 should be completed.  The total for all projects to complete Stage 5 is $102,000,000.  A realistic time frame to complete Stages 4 & 5 is five years (2014 - 2019). 

The plan provides a simple, technically sound and defendable approach for water quality upgrades for Kelowna, regardless of political boundaries.  The rate impact of the improvements with and without funding support from senior government is presented.  The final Plan is available here (very large file): KIWSP_SEPT_2012_FINAL.pdf  

A copy of the Executive Summary of the Plan is attached here:  KIWSP Executive Summary Sep2012.pdf